1,000 signatures reached
To: The City of London
Save the Ark Aid Street Mission & First Baptist Church
If you are a follow of Jesus, and belong to a community that is working to live that out, or if you care about the affects the homelessness crisis in London is having on us all you should be alarmed with the City of London for acting on a complaint by issuing a bylaw infraction order to First Baptist Church and Ark Aid Mission for using their premises for purposes outside an act of worship.
Joshua Lawrence of First St Andrews and Kevin George of St Aidan’s Church are standing in solidarity with the Reverend Al Roberts and the people of First Baptist who have been issued a zoning bylaw infraction order for opening their doors to the Ark Aid Street Mission. The ludicrous justification is that First Baptist Church is zoned as a place of worship and not an assembly hall.
To suggest to church communities that hosting a community meal daily is somehow outside of the bounds of what we do as a place of worship shows just what a gross lack of knowledge city officials have with respect to communities of faith. ￼
When we gather around the communion table on Sunday morning we are pointing towards building a community where everyone is welcome around the table daily. We are pointing towards the sort of meal programs the Ark are hosting at First Baptist￼. We are not only remembering the Last Supper with Jesus, we are calling the community to live it in a powerful and profound way.￼ Our act of remembrance is a call to radical hospitality.
Do we want officials at the City of London, telling church communities what being a house of worship looks like?
If the city gets its way - the Ark, which serves over 300 meals a day, will have to cease operations by October 20 (an extension from the date of Oct 4).
We are flummoxed as time why the city would do this to one of the longest serving organizations in the city when it comes to providing services to the most vulnerable at this time of year as we move into the cooler evenings.￼￼
Why is this important?
All of this because of one anonymous complaint. For those who may not belong to a faith community but are concerned about what they see on our streets, on Richmond Row, in our downtown core right now, we implore you to show your support.
We will have a catastrophe this winter if churches are not allowed to partner with the Ark or other service providers to welcome people in out of the cold, to assemble￼, to be fed, to use a washroom, to get showered.
We will fight this. We are calling on people of London; people of faith, people of good will, people of no faith, people who care about the plight of the unhoused across the city to join us in this fight. We cannot address the serious crises we are in in the city with homelessness if we do not work together.